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Child Life Month Celebration: Jessica L.

For the month of March, Children’s Wish Foundation is celebrating every Child Life Specialist that has made a difference in the lives of children and families around the world.  On behalf of Wish kids everywhere, we want to thank each and every Child Life Specialist for all that they’ve done to help children face their illness head on. In the event of Child Life month, what better way to celebrate their hard work and dedication than to feature a few of the Child Life Specialists that we work with on a daily basis. Reading their stories has brought tears to our faces and joy to our hearts. Enjoy!
IMG_7979Hi, everyone! First, I would like to express how incredibly grateful I am to be featured in the Children’s Wish Foundation International blog, I am truly honored to be recognized by such a remarkable foundation.
My name is Jessica and I have been a Certified Child Life Specialist for three years. I currently work for the Notre Dame Pediatric Palliative Care Program in Worcester, Massachusetts, which is a grant-funded program through to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Our home-based program aims to improve the quality of life of families who have a child with any life-limiting illness. I was born and raised in a small suburb outside of Boston, Massachusetts – and yes, I am a huge Boston sports fan! After high school, I decided to migrate south to attend the University of Miami where I studied child psychology and development. I also spent time as a research assistant, focusing on the impact of chronic childhood illness on children and families, including effects on psychological, behavioral, cognitive functioning, and family functioning. After graduation, I completed my internship at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. I have since moved back to the Boston area, surrounded by the love and support of friends, family and a giant Bernese Mountain Dog named Buddy. During my free time, I love to be outside, speak in movie quotes, and eat yummy food.
When I was in elementary school, one of my friends was diagnosed with a terminal illness and I can remember the profound impact it had on me as a young child. As soon as I was of age, I began volunteering at the Boston Children’s Hospital under the supervision of the Child Life Department. I spent my time visiting patients at their bedside that needed someone to play with them and organizing group activities in the playroom. I was able to observe the child life specialists in action and gain a firsthand perspective of the overwhelming impact child life specialists have on children and their families. It wasn’t long before I knew that child life was the career for me.
Children’s Wish Foundation is a remarkable resource and it starts with their employees. The foundation is full of the kindest individuals with a profound passion for the children they serve. The wide-ranging scope of their programs benefits a hugely diverse group of children, radiating joy and hope to countless boys and girls with life-limiting illnesses. The impact a simple gift can have on a hospitalized child is immeasurable and the “Hospital Enrichment Program” assists our Child Life Department in a number of unique ways. The Children’s Wish Foundation is truly a blessing for our organization. Irrespective of the complexity of my patients’ requests, they take the time to review the referrals on an individualized basis and accommodate them to the best of their ability – always putting the child’s needs first.
I love everything about being a child life specialist! I am incredibly blessed to wake up everyday and work with some of the most amazing children. It is extremely rewarding and challenging at the same time, and no day is ever the same. What makes my job unique is the opportunity to see how chronic illness affects family dynamics in the home setting and being able to work with children in their natural environment. I enjoy working with patients of all ages and diagnoses, finding ways to provide them with a sense of control and autonomy in situations where they may feel powerless. I love helping families through tough times in positive ways, focusing on quality of life and providing opportunities for children to simply be kids. There’s nothing more rewarding than putting a smile on a child’s face and bringing some sunshine into their lives. More importantly, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with such remarkable individuals. My work pales in comparison to the strength and bravery these children exhibit each and everyday – they constantly remind me to think positively and appreciate the little things.
Thank you for reading!
Jessica

2 Comments

  1. Bob Mayo-Reply
    April 2, 2016 at 9:56 am

    Jess, congratulations on being featured by your organization! Outstanding!! What’s even more impressive is the work you do every day. The difference you make in a child’s life, the support you provide a family in need and the example you set for your colleagues at the Children’s Wish Foundation. You are an impressive young lady and the world is a better place because you are in it. Continue the great work. I am very proud of you!

    Bob

  2. Tim-Reply
    April 3, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    Wow, Jess! Nice work….. And the piece was very well written about what you do. Totally impressed! I’ve spoken with your dad about your line of work, but I wasn’t able to truly grasp the profoundness of it all. All I can say is, “WOW”. Thanks for sharing that. I hope everyone reads your piece from beginning to end.
    God bless you!
    Timmy

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